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Bill to rewrite social security laws

Bill to rewrite social security laws

The Social Services Committee is calling for submissions on the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill. Submissions will close on Wednesday, 22 June 2016.

This bill aims to update the drafting, style, and structure of our social security legislation.

The bill sets out

• people’s eligibility for social security

• obligations

• sanctions

• rights to review and appeal decisions

• how assistance is delivered.

The bill would move provisions about residential care and disability support services into a separate Act.

Although most of the bill is just rewriting existing law, it does propose several policy changes to improve frontline practice:

• Adding, to the list of general principles for people working under the legislation, the principle of identifying appropriate assistance, support, and services to help achieve the best possible outcome for people at risk of long-term welfare dependency.

• Merging the orphan’s benefit and the unsupported child’s benefit into a “supported child’s payment”.

• Allowing single people who receive the supported child payment for a child under 14 to be paid a single rate of sole parent support and have that child taken into account when work obligations are set.

• Renaming the emergency benefit the “exceptional circumstances benefit”, and introducing the discretion to apply work preparation, obligations, and associated sanctions, to people receiving that benefit. Also, confirming that the maximum rate of the benefit must not exceed that of the equivalent main benefit, to clarify that the higher rate of New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension must not be paid.

• Introducing a new power to make regulations specifying groups of beneficiaries whose benefit instalment can be redirected without their consent 2

• Repealing provisions preventing both parents in split custody care situations from receiving sole parent support (when both parents care for at least 1 child each, rather than sharing the same child’s care between them).

Alfred Ngaro, Chairperson of the committee, said “While this bill would mainly rewrite existing law, it does propose a small number of changes to policy, mostly to improve practice. We are interested in hearing what people think about these proposed practical improvements.”

Alongside its consideration of this bill, the committee will consider a report from the Attorney-General under the Bill of Rights Act 1990. That report has concluded that the bill’s advantageous treatment of the totally blind (compared to its treatment of others with disabilities) limits the right to freedom from discrimination under section 19 of the Bill of Rights Act.

A copy of the bill can be found at
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2016/0122/latest/DLM6783115.html

The Attorney-General’s report can be found at http://www.parliament.nz/resource/ennz/51DBHOH_PAP68645_1/aedcac59e6e35f6e1aa4ccd3b371f41d804d6dae

ENDS

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